ale / beer

Ale and beer are both words that go back to Old English. Today, we distinguish the two as different beverages, but this distinction did not exist in Old English. Rather, ale was the commonly used word and beer was much rarer until the 16th century, being reserved for poetic language. But even in poetry its use was uncommon. Chaucer did not use the word, nor did William Langland in his Piers Ploughman.1

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